Date of Graduation

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department/Program

Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Virginia T Shimabukuro

Second Advisor

Stephen N Katsouros

Third Advisor

John C Bansavich

Abstract

Digital technology holds a powerful and ubiquitous place in society. The Internet provides today's students with unprecedented access to information. Its use in education has transformed educational paradigms, yet it also provides new challenges. While students do use the technology for schoolwork, they also use it in inappropriate ways. The Internet has provided a powerful and invasive weapon for cyberbullies and predators to prey on the vulnerable and the unsuspecting. The Pontifical Council for Social Communications (2002) affirmed that "[Y]oung people need to learn how to function well in the world of cyberspace, make discerning judgments according to sound moral criteria" (#7). Furthermore, John Paul II (1990a) espoused the importance of the power and potential of technology, especially for youth, and warned that technology be embraced only if the moral component drives its use.

A quantitative study was performed using the Student Internet Use Survey that was developed to investigate the practices and perceptions of students in a Catholic high school on the use of the Internet. Specifically, this study examined students' practices and perceptions related to general Internet usage, safety, cyberbullying, and sexting. An online survey was used to collect data from 483 students who were enrolled in a Catholic high school that employs 1-to-1technology.

Survey data revealed that teens used the Internet everyday and 96% used social media. Eighty percent used privacy settings to protect their information, and nearly 8 of 10 were concerned that information posted online could negatively affect their future. The threat of cyberbullying is a realistic danger, and over three-quarters of teens reported that adults should be involved when addressing the concerns of cyberbullying. Additionally, 30% of teens engaged in sexting activities, informing the educational community that educators need to educate students about the dangers and long-term effects of sexting practices.

This study provides valuable information about students in Catholic high schools regarding their perceptions and practices on the use of the Internet. By gaining knowledge and understanding of students' practices and perceptions, administrators and educators will be able to create policies and design curriculum to address student and community needs.

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